ON THE ROAD with Harvey: How to share the roads safely with cyclists

BY HARVEY KOONER

ICBC Road Safety Coordinator

 

 

WITH the great weather we’ve had this spring, you’ve probably noticed more cyclists on our roads even though it’s only June. If traffic congestion hasn’t enticed you out of your car yet, or cycling is just not practical for your commute, you still need to think about your role as a driver when you’re sharing the road with cyclists.

Five cyclists are injured every day in the summer months in B.C. and drivers play a key role in preventing these crashes. Distracted driving and failing to yield the right-of-way are the top contributing factors for drivers in crashes with cyclists.

For these reasons, we’re asking drivers to step up and actively watch for cyclists on our roads. All it takes is some timely courtesy and communication. Make eye contact and signal well in advance to let cyclists know before you cross a bike lane to turn right or to move to the side of the road.

In the Lower Mainland, most car crashes involving cyclists (84 per cent) happen at intersections. So it’s critical to watch for oncoming cyclists before turning left, and shoulder check before turning right. If you can, yield the right-of-way, as it only takes a few more seconds and it can help prevent a dangerous crash. And as is always the case, keep your mind on the road, even when you’re waiting for your turn to go at a traffic light.

Another common crash scenario is between cyclists and parked cars, when the driver or passenger open their door on a busy thoroughfare. So before you grab the handle, get in the habit of shoulder checking for cyclists coming from behind. Similarly, make it a habit to shoulder check for cyclists before you pull away from a curb.

Last but not least, whenever you’re sharing a road with a cyclist, respect their need for a safe travel zone. They aren’t protected by a vehicle the way drivers are. Cyclists may need to react quickly and unexpectedly to avoid hazards on the road, so give them at least three seconds following distance. When you pass a cyclist, give them one metre.

Keep following these tips behind the wheel for some good driving karma and you’ll avoid a potentially serious crash. You’ll also gain a cooperative road neighbour who respects your efforts.